A/N: BOOM! :P
A/N#2: Just a small note: there will be the allusion on the flower that appears in this chapter in the next Another Night, Another Path, that I'm posting in a few days. I'm funny this way, but blimey, don't I just love to link all my stories! :) *shamelessly creating canon for her own writing* The chapter will be a thank-you piece for a reader for pre-ordering my book, Thorin serenades Wren in Middle Earth, and it's pure smut. Stay tuned :)
"Wren!" exclaims Aunt Cecilia. Because it's clearly the Aunt Cecilia who broke her leg while Wren was mewling through the biggest crisis of her life.
"Cecilia!" answers Nana, whose name is indeed Wren. All women in Wren's family are skinny gingers named Wren.
"Wren!" tragically gasps Phil.
"Phil," mumbles Wren.
"Wren?" asks Killian, pointing at Wren.
"Wren!" confirms Phil.
"Killian." Wren is too polite not to acknowledge that they've met. He gives her a toothy grin.
And then this Rocky Horror Picture Show continues - or should she say 'Wren Horror?'
"Wren..." slowly rumbles Dr. John. Oh right, she sort of didn't have time to introduce herself. She was busy clawing at his back, while the two of them were scratching her floors with the table legs.
"Killian?" asks Phil, giving his brother a suspicious look. "Wren?" he points at Wren, his eyes widening in understanding.
"Oh, Killian..." Dr. Grumpy's sister, and probably Killian and Phil's mum, exhales sadly.
"Mum!" Killian's hands fly up in a defensive gesture, signalling he has nothing to do with all this aggro.
"Oh, Philly..." their Mum switches, and then Aunt Cecilia pats Dr. John's hand on the handle of her wheelchair, pointing at the table occupied by the very pleased looking Nana - schadenfreude is Nana's favourite hobby - and the very much nauseated Wren.
"Wren..." Dr. John repeats in his criminally deep velvet voice - just as they sometimes call it in harlequin novels - as if tasting the name - which men do only in harlequin novels.
"Uncle?" Phil sounds suddenly worried.
"Wren!" Aunt Cecilia's been rolled closer, and now the whole family's crowded around Wren's table.
Wren's staring into her plate. It's not helping, since she can still feel several pairs of eyes on her.
"Cecilia," Nana answers cordially.
"Wren..." Killian tsk-tsks, clearly stating she's been a very naughty girl.
"Killian..." Dr. John's voice drops in warning.
"The Wren?" asks Phil's Mum. Wren peeks. Phil nods, his eyes on her. What the actual Gallifrey?! Did he talk to his Mum about her?!
And that's the end of Wren's endurance. The cork pops - and the ginger snaps.
"It's all your fault!" she hisses at Phil. "You said it wasn't a date!"
Everyone stares at Phil, whose cheeks above the orange beard are suddenly red.
"You didn't ring." His tone is accusatory.
"It was a one-off! We had a verbal contract! Why can't you understand it like your brother?" Everyone as if by command whips their heads and looks at Killian.
"Oh goodness, it's worse than I thought..." mournfully mumbles the Mum.
"Can we not do this in a public place?" Dr. John's low voice pours into Wren's ear, and she braces herself.
"Are these your wonderful nephew and grandsons, Cecillia dear?" Nana's eyes run over Dr. John. "You should join us for dinner."
"Nana!" Wren squeaks.
"Wren," Nana warns. She'd never let a chance for a dramatic show pass her.
"With pleasure," Aunt Cecilia answers, and Wren's suspicions are confirmed when the respectable looking lady gives her a wink. Oh gods. It's the Grandmas conspiracy.
Killian is as eager to lower his sexy backside as a sprog sitting down in front of a slice of his birthday cake. Dr. John moves a chair back for his sister, ensures his Aunt is comfortable, and sits down as well. Phil is still frozen like a Weeping Angel under someone's unblinking stare.
His eyes are jumping between Wren and Killian, with an occasional detour to Dr. John. Oh Rassilon help her… And then it clicks.
"Uncle as well?" He sounds choked. Wren is actually worried for his blood pressure.
"With all due respect, how's that any of your business?" Wren's pretty much speaking in Parseltongue.
"Phil, sit." Dr. John's imperious tone makes Phil plop down on the last unoccupied chair.
"Oh, lovely," Nana is as cheery as a lark.
She beckons a waiter with her elegant, ring adorned hand, diamonds shooting blinding flashes, and the conversation is postponed, while the new arrivals are taking their menus and ordering their drinks.
The waiter leaves, and Wren is inflicting stabbing wounds onto her zucchine.
"So, Wren, what do you do?" The Mum's polite voice makes Wren gulp loudly.
"I'm a librarian." She gives the woman a grateful smile. At least someone here is being sane.
"Well, at least you didn't lie about this," Phil sneers sarcastically.
Dr. John gives out a pointed cough. "Manners, Phil."
Wren doesn't dare look at either of the men. She decides that females are safer.
"Are you a doctor as well, Mrs...?" Wren stumbles, not knowing the woman's name.
"Just Deadre, please," the Mum helps her out. "And yes, I'm a pediatrician, just like Philly here."
"Oh, lovely, a doctor." Nana clearly thinks that's point Phil. Probably just as much of a point as his elegant grey jacket over a light blue shirt.
Wren decides to make some things clear.
"You all are doctors, aren't you? The whole family? I remember Killian telling me..." she pronounces in a polite, even tone, keeping her eyes on Deadre.
"Oh, so you talked as well." Phil's mumbled commentary hangs above the table like a cloud of suffocating cigar smoke. Wren glares at him.
"Yes, we are," Dr. John supplies. Wren's industriously avoiding looking at him, not to throw poor Philly off his trolley completely.
"Except me! I'm a masseuse!" Killian from the gym announces gleefully.
"And an excellent one. This vocation is in such demand these days." Aunt Cecilia throws Nana a pointed look. Wren ponders stabbing herself into the eyeball with a fork. Nana's cold, slanted eyes focus on Killian. He's smiling sunnily to her. Wren can't say he looks any worse than his brother, this black jumper underlining his pectoral muscles and his arms… yum. In a completely platonic way, yum. Shut up.
"And how do you know my granddaughter, young man?" Nana inquires.
"We go to the same gym," Killian answers.
"We hooked up in a club," Wren announces at the same time, and heads turn, and everyone's looking at her. That's still better than the not-so-covert matchmaking going on here. "You know the sexual habits of our generation. No strings attached, new partner every night, and such..." Wren's cheeks are burning, but she feels the old ladies' efforts have to be nipped in the bud.
"Clearly, not just our generation." Seriously, does Dr. Phil need a bloody gag, or something?
"Phil, I doubt that making a woman more uncomfortable than she already is will gain you her affection."
OK, that rumbly statement makes Wren finally look at Dr. John. There are muscles dancing on his jaw, and altogether he looks… good. Gods, he looks good. She even momentarily forgets this whole aggro! Bloody hell, this dark red jumper over a pale grey shirt, and a tie two tones lighter, and the nose, and the lips… Oh, she's suddenly hot! She meets his eyes... and Dr. John gets a point for the lack of judgement in them. If anything, he looks supportive. Hard to tell for sure, though. He's mastered the Easter Island dummy facial expression to perfection.
"So, John, how do you know my granddaughter?"
Oh no, Nana has acquired a target. Alarm, alarm, alarm! Retreat! Wren feels like jumping on her feet and running out of the bistro, flailing her arms above her head in panic. Probably screaming, Can a girl have a casual shag in peace here?!
"We ran into each other jogging." Wow, the bloke's really calm. So, no mentioning the table incident? Even the memories of it make Wren squirm.
"Did you? Are you the one I should thank for my granddaughter's limp then?" Nana lifts one eyebrow.
"Oh no!" Deadre the Pediatrician throws Wren a worried look. "Did you have it looked at, Wren? It might be something serious." She looks sincerely concerned. Awww, Wren likes her.
"It's just a bruise," Wren reassures.
"But you should take it to a doctor, Wren..." Deadre insists.
"She did," Dr. John deadpans. Now he's the one everyone's staring at. Wren takes a giant gulp of water from her glass. She feels like calling their waiter and ordering an aneurism, please? "And now I think we should enjoy our meal and choose some neutral topic."
That, ladies and jellybeans, is the authoritative tone if Wren's ever heard one. And somehow even Nana doesn't argue. She's actually giving him an approving glance, and nods to her own thoughts. Wren is somehow certain she wouldn't like those thoughts.
The aforementioned neutral topic is the two old ladies recollecting the times when their husbands were in the same club, and how much fun the derby was all those years ago. Wren is industriously eating her meal, and the waiter shows up with the menu for desserts.
A crack appears in the hard earned peace at the table, when Killian decides that their waiter - a super fit, long legged brunette, with the most glorious tits - needs to get a dosage of his charm. His pull talk isn't sleazy actually, kind of cute, and Deadre is throwing him kind, but exasperated looks. He's like a BN biscuit, all winky and sweet. John's deftly ignoring it, in his usual unwavering confident manner. Wren shortly wonders when exactly she started thinking about him in terms of 'usual.' No one seems disturbed by the dialogue - the old ladies are chatting, Deadre and Dr. John are clearly accustomed, Wren's just happy no one's paying attention to her - but somehow the flirty banter between the brunette and Killian regarding bruttiboni 'being not sweet enough to sooth his lonely heart' sets off poor Philly.
"Does it not bother you, Wren?" Does Wren detect a slightly hysterical note in Dr. Phil's voice?
She feels sincerely sorry for him, don't get her wrong. Poor ducky. On one hand, she doesn't approve of his manipulative behaviour, and seriously, did he think his cock was magical and she'd suddenly change her mind after a shag? But on the other hand, the barney like theirs doesn't normally jump out of shrubbery and bite one's arse. He'd wait for her to ring, she'd never do… end of story. Them sharing a table with two other men intimately familiar with her fanny - his brother and Uncle, no less - plus three older relatives, isn't exactly what unfortunate one offs lead to, and understandably, he's approaching a wobbly.
"C'mon, Phil, we are all friends here. Can't we just get along?" Killian's places a hand on his brother's shoulder, and gives the waiter a wink. "I'm sure Wren doesn't care owt what either of us does in his free time."
Phil throws Killian's hand off his shoulder, and narrows his eyes. "Well, then clearly the two of you are a perfect match."
"We are not!" Wren rushes to reassure the waiter. She really doesn't want to arse up Killian's chances with the brunette. "We are not together, and it's just one big misunderstanding..."
"It's not a misunderstanding, Wren." Dr. Phil's clearly lost his bottle now, and he points his finger at her. "You slept with every single man at this table!"
An excruciating pause hangs, and Wren flares her nostrils and slowly turns to the livid looking Dr. Phil.
"And if we both want it, I can also shag this wonderful young lady!" She point at the waiter, who is carefully backing off from their table - and then stops and starts scribbling something in her notebook. "Sorry." Wren apologises to the chick, and turns back to the spasming blonde. "And it will be my personal business, as long as everyone participating in it is clear on what's happening and what's expected from them!"
They are locked in a death glare competition, when the waiter places a page from her notebook in front of Wren.
"That's my number. Call me..."
"She won't," Phil snarls.
"Maybe I will," Wren hisses, and picks up the page.
"And share it with him," says the waiter, pointing at the dark haired brother with her pencil, and everyone turns to the very smug looking Killian. Seriously, for the ladies except Wren this whole dinner is like Wimbledon. Left-right, left-right. "And now, I'll go get your desserts." The waiter twirls on her heels and leaves.
Wren theatrically picks up the brunette's number and stuffs it into her clutch.
Phil opens his mouth, probably to roar something else... and then Wren's phone rings.
Again, heads turn, and now everyone's looking at the device in a Tardis case, jollily vibrating on the table. Wren grabs it like a lifesaver.
"Ms. Leary, it's Mr. Jones, your concierge."
"Evening, Mr Jones." Wren is still keeping her narrowed eyes on Phil. He is hyperventilating. From the corner of her eye Wren can see Killian trying not to burst into laughter. Nana's whispering something in the ear of Aunt Cecilia. Deadre is drinking water with a distant expression.
"Ms. Leary, there's a delivery from a florist shop here. It's a large bouquet of irises, and there's a note with a phone number. Would you like me to read it to you?"
"Florist?" Wren doesn't understand. Flowers are nice of course, and also it's very unintrusive to think of it, compared to say, a bloke creepily appearing at her doorstep, but what?..
"Yes, for you. And I have to say, I've accepted many bouquets for my tenants over the thirty years of my service, Ms. Leary, and this one might be the most elegant. They are wonderful, simply wonderful! Have I mentioned my brother is a botanist? And this is exquisite! Iris latifolia, if I'm not wrong, and such elegant Monet blue..."
"The note, Mr. Jones," Wren interrupts.
"Oh yes, I'm sorry. It says, I hope you are feeling better and have forgiven the root that hit your hip. John. And there's a phone number, Ms. Leary."
"Ms. Leary?" Mr. Jones asks, troubled by Wren's long silence.
Wren's lifted her eyes and is staring at Dr. John... or just John, to think of it. He's looking back at her, and there are merry sparks of laughter in his eyes. She cocks her head and gives him an exaggerated questioning look from under a hiked up eyebrow. And then one corner of his lips curls up, in a lopsided smirk, and... Wren's toast. What a cocky bastard! All puns intended.
"Wren?" her Nana asks, and Wren hangs up. She hasn't stopped looking in his eyes, and maybe… she sort of doesn't want to any time soon.
"I have forgiven the root," she says and smiles to him widely.
"Good," he answers simply.
Wren puts the phone aside, and the waiter appears with their dessert. Coffee and sweets are arranged on the table, and Nana summarizes the evening, "So, the Uncle then, Wren?"
John emits a throaty chuckle, and takes a sip of his espresso. Wren properly fancies how his lips close over the rim of the cup.
"Maybe..." Wren smiles to him, and he salutes her with the cup. "Ask me next Saturday."